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August's Journal

[17:00] Welcome to a slightly later September entry. Since the middle of August quite a bit has gone on, so I'll try and get it all down, as I know you all care so much about what's happening in my life.

First the mundane: I continue to be wearing my Invisalign dental appliances, which I'm pretty sure have been helping me lose a little bit of weight by severely curtailing my snacking opportunities. As of today I'm just about to begin week 9, and my teeth alternately ache, or feel really odd in my mouth. My lips continue to be overly dry despite me drinking a lot more than I usually do. A trip to the dentist in early September confirmed that I won't be shot of the appliances until some time in late January.

Other than that, some fun things that took place was a two day recce of the course of the 50 mile race Rachel and I were then going to do a few weeks later. We had great weather both days, arrived early on the Saturday morning, ran 27 miles or so, stayed in a lovely pub/B&B, then ran about 23 miles the next day back to the start/finish, then got a train home again. The Chilterns are very pretty, and we actually began to look forward to doing the race for real, although had no idea how we'd manage to do it any faster than the 12.5 hours or so it took us over the two days.

Before and after the recce I had plenty of work going on, with the best bits being the number of RHEL 6 instances I was able to shut down. Along with that and some patching I was feeling quite good about the state of our RHEL estate, despite the large number of out of date OSes we're still running.

We had three weeks between the recce and the race for real (on the 16th of this month), and in the days leading up to it I got a call from the lady we'd booked our B&B with (about three quarters of a mile from the start/finish) to say that she couldn't accommodate us any more, but not to worry as she'd found us a place that would honour the same price. It turned out to be the pub basically opposite the start/finish building, which was fantastic. So, we rocked up there on the Friday night, had a nice pub meal and went to bed in the knowledge that we could roll up to the start just half an hour or so before the go. This is unheard of for races like this when usually you have to get up at 5am or sometimes earlier to get some food down you and then travel to the race venue. Anyway, there we were and eventually off we all went. I'd loosely planned to stay with Rachel as long as I could, but had mostly acknowledged the grim reality that I'm just not as fast as her any more. This is mainly down to age, the lack of ultra-specific training, and the fact that she's a better runner than I am, now. Anyway, off we ran and surprisingly I was managing to keep up with her for the most part. The miles ticked by and she was always either right in front of me, or at least within eyeshot. In fact it wasn't until around mile 30-35 that she began to pull ahead and I fell in with someone else for a while. To cut a long story short, she ended up finishing as third woman and I was only about 14 minutes behind her. We're both a bit surprised at how well we both did, and I don't feel like I'm quite as over the hill as I thought I might be. The weather was amazing, I ate and drank almost enough, but still was slowed down by muscle cramps caused by low salts. If I can lick that issue and maybe get a bit more training in I might be able to keep up with her if we both enter the same race as each other in the future. As it is we have a 'fun' 38 miles race in a few weekends from now which we are planning on running together, so that should be nice.

We both finished feeling pretty pooped and very stiff, but knew that after staying the night in the pub (such a short walk back afterwards!), and went to our respective homes on the Sunday, we were both off on holiday to the Peak District! We met in Sheffield on the Monday afternoon and took a short train ride to Hope. A very short walk took us to our holiday 'cottage' which was lovely and snug for two. We had a lovely time there, spoilt only by my coming down with a monster cold which put paid to everything but two gentle hikes. We managed to get Win Hill, Lose Hill, Mam Tor, and the outsides of all of the named 'caverns' into the two of them, and also had some huge breakfasts, lunches, made some nice dinners in, and had a really nice curry out, too.

Rather than go home after the week, we came to my parents' in Manchester where I set my father up with some nice bluetooth headphones, bought him an SD card, and spend a day or so ripping all of his classical music CDs to MP3. This makes him very happy, which makes my mother very happy, which makes me happy. Rachel headed off to the Lake District to collect her nephew and two of his friends, all of whom were driven back to Manchester to a snow dome and a shopping trip to the Trafford Centre where I met the for lunch. Rachel then came home with me for the night and headed back to her home on Monday morning. I remain here in Manchester until Thursday, when I go home again myself. And that is everything that's happened!

The remainder of the month sees me collecting some new monitors from the office for home use, and a return to running in time to make sure I'm ready for the ultra on the 9th of October. Just before that I'll be in the office for a day doing a site visit to look at some hosts we'll be migrating into our care. Other than that things look pretty normal for me, with the occasional bit of UX research with Red Hat netting me a few more Amazon vouchers, and generally trying to do some more VMware/VCF (and components) training.

For now though, on with the show...